School Research Seminar

28 November 2018, 1.00 PM - 28 November 2018, 2.30 PM

Natalie Edwards, Associate Professor of French Studies & Director of Graduate Studies, The University of Adelaide

LT3, Arts Complex

The School of Moedern Languages welcomes Natalie Edwards, Associate Professor of French Studies at The University of Adelaide for our next seminar. 

Staff and students welcome, a light lunch will be provided beforehand.


Hélène Cixous and Maryse Condé: Writing the Self Between Languages.

In this paper, I discuss how bilingual authors incorporate multiple languages into their life writing.  Linguist Ofelia Garcia proposes the term “translanguaging” to refer to a “dynamic bilingualism” that “is centred, not on languages as has often been the case, but on the practices of bilinguals that are readily observable in order to make sense of their multilingual worlds” (141). In this paper, I read the life writing of two bilingual authors, Hélène Cixous and Maryse Condé, through this theory of translanguaging.  I focus on Cixous’s Une autobiographie allemande (A German Autobiography) and Condé’s Le Cœur à rire et à pleurer (Tales from the Heart). Both authors write predominantly in French but incorporate German and Creole respectively into their texts. I demonstrate that Cixous performs her bilingualism on the level of individual words, creating new words comprised of French and German that encapsulate her identity.  These plurilingual neologisms become a unique literary language that enables her to perform her self-narrative. I contrast these narrative strategies to those of Condé, who incorporates phrases in Creole throughout her text with no translations.  Instead, she includes a glossary and footnotes. Condé’s literary language thus melds the two languages in an intimate search for self-narrative and becomes a performance of the multiple levels of duality (linguistic, cultural, ethnic) that comprise her identity.

Taken together, these strategies move the texts beyond discreet languages to the invention of new literary forms to communicate subjectivity translingually.

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